SO UNREGULATED: an overview of the regulations governing the animal cosmetics market - SO POSH

SO UNREGULATED: an overview of the regulations governing the animal cosmetics market

SO UNREGULATED is a series meant to educate the pet market on the state of the animal cosmetics industry. We have spent years researching the science and developing our products. There's still so much to learn. This is series is an invitation to study with us. We are going to share our findings on this blog and invite other experts to share their knowledge on our soon-to-be-released podcast. If you wish to learn more about the chemistry and trends of dog cosmetics, you're in the right place.
Let we start this off with some statistics:
  • Approximately 1 in 4 dogs will, at some stage in their life, develop a tumor. Almost half of the dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. [1]
  • 80% of dogs by age 8 and 20% of dogs by age 1, will show signs of arthritis. [2]
  • The estimated prevalence of dermatitis in dogs is approximately 10–15%. [3]
Although it seems normal in our current
day and age, we don’t think it’s okay that the most common cause of death in dogs is cancer. Cancer being a lifestyle-related health issue, it’s more important than ever to be aware of how we take care of our pups, what we feed them, and the chemicals that we soak them in each week.
Obviously, feeding your pet with generic kibble, which mostly consists of corn and flavor enchanters, will cause long-term health issues. Most pet owners already know this, which is why the premium dog food market is booming. But what about the cosmetics we clean our dogs with?
In 1976, the EU launched The Cosmetics Directive, after it became clear that the unregulated cosmetics industry is causing serious health issues for a vast part of mankind. The Directive was reevaluated in 2009, and the EU-wide Cosmetics Products Enforcement Regulation came into full force in 2013.

In summary, the act defined a wide array of regulations relating to the R&D, testing,production, labeling, and marketing of cosmetic products:

  • Animal testing was banned.

  • A list of allowed and banned substances was created;

  • As many preservatives were banned, the production facilities now had to follow strict sanitary guidelines;

  • To ensure their purity, and to eliminate the environmental issues associated, the chemicals used were now required to be produced following the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices);

  • All labels on cosmetic products now had to list every single ingredient they contained.

After the market adjusted to the regulations, there was a large drop in health issues related to toxic cosmetics. Great!

Let’s look at how the word “cosmetics” is defined in the act.

“The Regulation specifies six functions in relation to external parts of the HUMAN BODY for products that may be cosmetic products, namely:

  • to clean;

  • to perfume;

  • to change the appearance;

  • to protect;

  • to keep in good condition;

  • to correct body odors.”

"The Cosmetics Products Enforcement Regulation only applies to the products meant to be used on the human body. Animal cosmetics are, by definition, meant to be used on animals. The regulations don’t apply to animal cosmetics. What?!"

Now you’re going to ask what are the regulations governing the animal cosmetics market?The answer: THERE ARE NONE. Okay, we lied. To be absolutely correct, as the consumer of animal cosmetics is the person purchasing them, the EU Consumer Rights apply. The consumer has the right to return faulty products, receive truthful advertisement, etc.


And that’s pretty much it.

Here are some completely legal and unfortunately quite common practices in the production of animal cosmetics:
  • To use batches of chemicals deemed too impure to be used in human cosmetics;

  • To not list any of the ingredients used on the label or only the unharmful ones;

  • As the conditions producing or mixing the chemicals are unsanitary, pump the final mixture full of toxic preservatives - such as formaldehyde.

“The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” by Daniel Hirst.  A shark submerged in formaldehyde. You know, the same chemical used as a preservative in animal cosmetics.


We especially want to emphasise the use of formaldehyde. In our experience, we can confidently say you it's present in at least half of the dog cosmetics brands on the market. Definitely in the more generic and popular ones. If you see DMDM Hydantoin on the label, run.

As us humans don’t have a coat, our skin is much thicker and resistant to outside stressors. The main purpose of a dog’s coat is to keep them warm and to protect the skin from all kinds of environmental stressors they might encounter, such as bacteria and chemicals. Well, we’ve decided to start soaking our dogs in bacteria and chemicals. Weekly.

What do you think are the long-term consequences for the dogs? If you’re thinking cancer, dermatitis, arthritis, allergies, or even dementia, you’re completely right. How do you think these chemicals affect the health of groomers, who spend 8 to 10 hours a day washing pets?

So what’s the solution? How do we make sure we're not slowly poisoning our pets with god-knows-what? How do groomers make sure they're not poisoning themselves?

Well, we created our own brand, SO POSH. That way we know exactly what we wash our loved ones with. But for you? I guess you’ve got to find a brand you can trust. If that's not enough for you, the best you can do is to educate yourself.

Educate yourself on the regulations, the chemistry, the cosmetic industry's practices and the physiology of dogs. As we've yet to find a single source for all this information, all that is either going to take a couple of semesters in university, or hundreds of hours of organized research.

Or, you can subscribe to this blog.

Stay posh!

Back to blog

Leave a comment